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At the start of June I was sent a start set of Fly OFF tags from Equine-Innovations to review for you. I have been using them on and off for about 2 months now (having just received a top up of tags) and I have to say I am surprised how effective them seem to be!
What are Fly Off tags?
These tags a little plastic tags filled with essential oils known for their fly repellant properties. Some of the oils used include; citronella, peppermint, geranium and geraniol.
How easy are they to use
The Fly Off tags are incredibly easy to use and are perfect for horses who don’t like fly spray. If you buy the Fly Off starter pack from Equine-Innovations, you receive two leg straps and a little bag clip. The leg straps are very easy to use. Simply slot the tag into the netting area and wrap around your horses leg. The little bag clip can be attached to rugs, headcollars, saddles etc. So you can have fly protection whatever you are doing.
If you just want to buy the tags by themselves, you can plait them into manes and tails to give your horse protection or even tie them onto rugs. So while I recommend going for the se with the leg straps (largely due to me being lazy and not wanting to plait!) you do not need to buy the extras to get the best out of these tags.
One Size Fits All!
You don’t need to worry about sizing issues when purchasing the set as the leg straps should fit most horses. Scottie has fine thoroughbred legs and they are a tiny bit big, but still fit him well. I have also seen hairy cobs wearing them with no issues too. So I do think they will fit most horses.
Do they work
Short answer – Yes I think they do! When Scottie has been wearing them I haven’t been using fly spray. He has had less flies bothering him in the field and hasn’t come out in hives overnight from midges. This is fantastic as Scottie can react quite badly to midges overnight, and when he manages to get his fly mask off, he can get really puffy eyes if the flies have been at them. So repelling these tags have been fantastic for this. Especially where it has been too warm for me to feel happy putting a fly rug on. It has also been much more effective than fly spray alone. I think this could be because it releases the oils slowly throughout the day, whereas the fly spray only lasts for an hour or so.
However, I’m not sure how effective they are against horse flies. Scottie has still had the odd lumpy bite from a horse fly, which he still tends to get with other fly protection (mask, fly spray etc). But Scottie never tends to get too bothered by horse flies. I’m not sure if this is because they aren’t generally attracted to him or just that he doesn’t tend to react to them. I think if your horse is really struggling with horse flies and nothing seems to be working, I certainly think these tags are worth a try! But I’m unsure how much protection they actually offer against horse flies.
How long do they last?
The company suggests each tag should last about a week. This is because once you remove the tag from the plastic, they oils start to diffuse through the plastic shell and it takes about a week for all the oils to leave the casing. However, if it is in direct sunlight, the essential oils will evaporate quicker. If your tag is plaited into your horses mane or tail, it may not last as long. The leg straps and bag which come with the starter pack reduce the amount of sunlight the tags receive, meaning they last longer. I found that Scottie’s leg tag still smelt strongly after 2 weeks. So play it by ear (or nose!) and change them when you feel they have run out.
I found with Scottie that if I put a leg strap on his front leg, while scratching his face on his legs it occasionally got stuck to the Velcro of his fly mask, resulting in coming off the leg. However, switching it to a hind leg solved this problem. I have also found that with finer boned horses, wrapping the strap around the pastern, rather than the cannon bones seems to fit better. But beware if your horse wears overreach boots as Scottie’s boots damaged the netting pouch which holds the tag in place.
Over all, I think anyone struggling to find a solution to the awful flies this year should give these a try. They are easy to use and do seem to work for face flies and midges at the very least. I have heard a few people say that their horse hasn’t been bothered by horse flies since using them too. But I can’t say I have noticed a difference in horse flies since using them on Scottie, so I can’t comment on that really. For other ideas on how to keep your horse fly free this summer, read my Bug Busting Kit.